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Criticism abounds after Collins announces she will vote for Kavanaugh

The Maine Democratic Party lambasted Republican US Senator Susan Collins on Friday, while the Republican Party lauded her, for deciding to vote in favor of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh’s nomination is heading toward a Saturday vote amid a cloud of sexual assault and misconduct allegations leveled against the jurist dating back to his high school and college years. Collins, a crucial vote, announced her decision in a dramatic speech on the Senate floor.

Democratic Party chairman Phil Bartlett said, “Maine has a rich history of Senators who have stood up for what’s right and put country over party. Unfortunately for Mainers, the example set by Margaret Chase Smith was not one that Senator Susan Collins chose to live up to today.”

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“Based on his record and views on health care, abortion, and abuse of Presidential powers, Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination should have been rejected on the merits. Now, based on the credible allegations he faces and his recent testimony, it’s become clear that he does not possess the integrity or character to be appointed to a lifetime position as a Justice on our highest court. It’s a shame Senator Collins can’t recognize that,” Bartlett said in a statement.

A fund-raising e-mail sent by the party said, “Susan Collins had her chance. She chose not to stand with women.”

Democracy for America, a progressive PAC, said in a tweet it had tried to defeat Collins in 2014 and “we’re committing, right now, to working with anyone we can to finish the job in #2020. Mainers deserve better.”

Republican Party chairwoman Demi Kouzounas said, “Senator Collins has yet again proven that reason and logic will prevail over the rabid rhetoric of extreme partisan agendas. America will soon have a new Supreme Court Justice who will respect and defend the United States Constitution as written, and for that I am eternally grateful.”

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“Senator Collins is and always has been fair and meticulous in her approach. Leading up to her decision today, she faced immense and aggressive pressure yet she did not crack or allow it to stray her from her process. Instead, she went forward and delivered what should be considered the gold standard of speeches in explaining her vote and showing how a nominee should be evaluated,” Kouzounas said in a statement.

The conservative State Government Leadership Foundation also thanked Collins for supporting Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“Thank you to Senator Susan Collins for her steadfast, thorough review of Judge Kavanaugh’s impeccable record of public service and looking past the eleventh hour, partisan, dangerous and divisive antics of Democrats and paid liberal protesters,” Matt Walter, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

“We live in challenging times, but accusations are still no substitute for due process,” Walter said.

Liberal groups took to social media to lambaste Collins.

“You don’t get to say you believe Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford and then vote to put her assailant on the Supreme Court,” said the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund on Twitter as it became clear during Collins’s floor speech that she was voting yes. “#ActionsSpeakLouderThanWords #BelieveSurvivors #SupportSurvivors.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a leading national LGBTQ advocacy group, also cried foul.

“We are deeply disappointed in Senator Collins today. In one of the most consequential vote[s] of her lifetime — and of her constituents’ lifetimes — she has opted to back a dangerous, unqualified nominee who repeatedly lied under oath and has multiple credible allegations of sexual assault,” said Chad Griffin, the group’s president, in a statement.

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“The harmful consequences of Senator Collins’ decision to support Brett Kavanaugh will last decades. In the wake of this news, there is only one course of action. The millions of Americans who have fought a valiant struggle against this despicable nominee must make their voices heard in November and beyond by electing lawmakers who will stand up for our rights rather than sell us out,” he said.

Michael Avenatti, a Democratic lawyer for one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Julie Swetnick, also ripped the Maine senator.

“@SenatorCollins should be ashamed of herself for attacking my client and Dr. Ford,” tweeted Avenatti, who also represents the adult film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump. “How did she make a credibility determination as to my client? How is she qualified to do that without ANY investigation? She did ZERO to determine whether my client and her witnesses were credible.”

Kavanaugh’s nomination was thrown into tumult by the sexual assault and misconduct allegations, which he adamantly denied. Collins was seen as facing a tough decision before casiting a key swing vote in the Senate. Her stamp of approval appeared to make it likely that the judge will be confirmed Saturday.

Liberal activists hoping to dissuade Collins from supporting Kavanaugh created an unusual crowdfunding campaign, saying that people could donate to a fund and, if Collins supported Kavanaugh, the money would go to whoever challenged Collins in 2020. If Collins did not support Kavanaugh, the money would never be withdrawn from the donors.

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The website said it had raised $1,968,261 at about the time of Collins’s speech, which began shortly after 3 p.m. and lasted about 40 minutes. By about 6 p.m., the site reported it had raised $2,192,638, or more than $200,000 more, from thousands of new donors.

Former Obama administration official Ben Rhodes linked Collins to Trump, who nominated Kavanaugh.

“Susan Collins just reminding us once again that Donald Trump is hardly an aberration — he is the most natural leader for the Republican Party and has been for a while,” Rhodes tweeted.


James Pindell of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.